Maybe the Parrots Are Pining for the Fjords?

It takes a special director to make a silent film in which ventriloquism is a key plot point — undoubtedly, Tod Browning is just such a director. In The Unholy Three, Lon Chaney leads ex-carnival workers (Hercules, the strong man; Tweedledee, the little person; and Ape, an ape) into lives of crime as jewel thieves. Stick with us on this: The gang's cover is that they run a pet shop that only sells parrots; Chaney uses his ventriloquism skills to provide amazing voices for the birds, but once they leave the shop, the birds go mute. When customers complain, Chaney and the boys make a house call to reclaim the defective birds and case the joint for potential loot. Being a Browning film, The Unholy Three is more than just a crime thriller with a weird hook; there's an element of pathos in Chaney's lovelorn character that marks the finer work of the Man of a Thousand Faces. This macabre flick gets a new soundtrack tonight at 7 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum Auditorium in Forest Park, courtesy of the New Music Circle's Circle/Cinema program (314-567-5384 or www.newmusiccircle.org). There's plenty of melodrama and thrills for the band to dig into, but one question remains — will there be a parrot on lead vocals? Admission is $3 to $5 if you're eager to know the answer.
Fri., Nov. 3

 
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